International Child Protection, and the development of co-operation between European States and States of the Islamic tradition from the Mediterranean region, are two interconnected themes of an important Conference which is to take place in Malta from 14 to 17 March 2004.
The Conference on Cross-Frontier Family Law Issues will be attended by top ranking judges and Government Officials from Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, UK (England and Wales). Also present will be Officials of the Commission and Council of the European Union, Non-Governmental Organisations representatives and academics.
The objective of the Conference is to work towards agreement on some basic principles and approaches in ensuring that, when parents separate and live in different countries, their children can continue to enjoy contact with both of them. The Conference will also discuss the problems posed when a parent unlawfully removes or retains a child in one country without the agreement of the other parent.
The increase in international (and often inter-cultural) marriages, combined with greater mobility, has led to a proliferation of cross-frontier family law disputes. International treaties, such as the Hague Convention of 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, with 74 Contracting States, offer a solution for some countries. But the 1980 Convention does not operate in States from within the Islamic tradition. A number of bilateral agreements operate between certain Western and Islamic States. These, for the most part, seek to promote agreed outcomes between the parents. The Conference will be asking whether it is possible to complement these mediating structures and begin to build up a set of common legal principles, constituting a rule of law on which parents and their children can rely.
The Conference is being hosted by the Government of Malta and co-organised by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the body which has been responsible in the last 25 years for establishing and monitoring three major treaties on International Child Protection.
[Arabic translation of this press release] | [text of the Declaration] | [text of the Declaration in Arabic] | [text of the Declaration in Turkish - courtesy translation Embassy of Turkey at The Hague]